The holiday lights are shining brightly all over town. I’m always amazed at both the creativity and the amount of work that goes into some of the displays.
Nestled in amongst the cacophony of color and light are the distinctive blue twinkling lights of Hanukkah. The special nine-branched menorah that is used to celebrate the holiday can be seen in the windows of homes throughout our neighborhoods.
The story of Hanukkah is from the 2nd century BCE when the Jewish people successfully rebelled against an oppressive foreign power and rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It is a story of faith that did not dim in the face of overwhelming odds. Eight of the branches of the Hanukkah menorah represent the eight days the Temple candles miraculously continued to burn. The ninth branch holds the “Shamash,” the helper candle that is used to light all the others.
Dr. Naomi Rachel Remen remembers learning that the lights of Hanukkah also represent the light that God has placed in every person. She writes, “There is a place in everyone that can carry the light. God has made us this way. When God says ‘LET THERE BE LIGHT,’ he is speaking to us personally.… He is telling us what is possible, how we might choose to live.”
An even more concise and pointed message can be found in the tweet from Rabbi David Wolpe, a longtime friend of Adventist HealthCare: “The Shamash is the candle that lights the others. Be a Shamash.”
I like the idea that the greatest lights in our communities are not on our front lawns or in our windows—they are in our hearts. Our lives are lights. The hope that we share across many faiths is that we can each be part of the light that illuminates the lives of others.